If Your Job is All You Do

unnamedI’m back home in Dallas after having an absolutely wonderful time in Los Angeles! The Yellow Conference was so incredibly inspiring, and I loved getting to spend time with Andrew and Lauren on the best coast. More recaps (and lots of pretty pics) to come!

The conference stimulated me creatively in so many ways, and I felt encouraged to continue to seek out inspiration in my daily life once I returned home. Sometimes inspiration comes in the most unlikely of places, like in an email I received yesterday from one of my favorite companies, Artifact Uprising. The subject line – “If your job is all you do…” – jumped off the screen, capturing my attention. I loved what the business’s co-founder, Katie Thurmes, wrote about this topic on AU’s blog:

“You can’t do a good job if your job is all you do.”

I scribbled those words on a napkin three years ago. The words came at a time of tire. The truth is, I had spent years creating art at a rate that would soon try my passion for the very art that inspired that pace. It’s difficult to acknowledge that place. For one: it’s a privilege to take on work that’s infused with so much passion you dare name it a calling. And for two: admitting to that need, to admit aloud that your fire needs fueling demands a certain kind of courage to shift your own expectations for yourself.

Creativity requires of us to get out there, to unplug, to move and to pause – it requires we make room to think about what could be. We too often forget to take the deep breath and say “yes” to the things that scare us. Or the things we need the most. This “yes” is courage. Without it, we would have never made it to our desk today. And without it, we’ll never leave. Leaving is important – you’ll be better when you’re back.

I must interject here that I am blessed to have a healthy work + life balance, thanks to the fact that my place of work values personal time, family commitments, and vacation time. The fact that I was encouraged to go to the Yellow Conference on behalf of the foundation is an indication that our organization values inspiration that comes from outside the confines of the office. I know that many companies aren’t like that, and it isn’t always an option to sneak away or stop working (whether for a creative conference or a restful vacation) when deadlines and angry bosses loom near. That being said, I thought the message in Artifact Uprising’s email was an excellent reminder that creativity will always be stifled if we’re working ourselves to the bone, forgetting to pause to take in the beauty around us. This theme is one that was reiterated frequently at the Yellow Conference, and I can’t wait to share more of the things I learned while I was there. Stay tuned!

Image via Artifact Uprising

Balance

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Is it just me or has this summer been absolutely flying by? Life feels so fast-paced these days, and in many ways, that’s a great thing. Work is stimulating and fulfilling, and our social calendar is filled to the brim with dinners with friends and church commitments and family visits and weekend trips and volunteer work, all beautiful things that I really and truly could not live without. I relish having a full calendar with lots of fun activities on it, and I can never return home from a trip without starting to plan the next one. This is who I am, someone who embraces (and craves!) the fullness and richness of a schedule filled with diverse, meaningful work, events, relationships, and travel opportunities.

But sometimes this fast-paced speed isn’t all that great, mostly because I find myself overlooking the tiny joys that are inherent in each and every day. I had to get some vaccinations recently for my upcoming trip to Ghana (since this will be my 12th visit to West Africa, some of my shots were outdated) and when I called my nurse after my appointment to clarify a few things, she gently mentioned that we had discussed those items during my visit to the doctor’s office. I cannot, for the life of me, remember that conversation. Of course it’s possible that we didn’t have the chat that she referenced (maybe she told another patient?), but this information came on the coattails of me ending up at the bank without the check I needed to deposit, at the grocery store without my list of goodies to purchase, and several other instances that forced me to wonder if maybe I’m moving a bit too fast. Not only am I overlooking some things in my life that need to be checked off of my to-do list (which comes as a shock to such a detail-oriented person), but I am also not taking the time to soak up the little things that I am grateful for because I don’t have the capacity to take all of them in.

I want to redirect my focus, allowing me to fully appreciate every single moment of this beautiful life. That means not checking my e-mail while engaged in a conversation with someone I love, enjoying a relaxing pose during my yoga class instead of contemplating my to-do list, and savoring my lunch at work away from my computer, amongst other things. This means practicing gratitude for the tiny joys in life, the things that can be easily overlooked, things like cuddling with Callie, reading a great book, or feeling the sun on my face.

Ultimately, this is about balance, about celebrating the sweetness that is the proverbial full plate (which includes copious amounts of interesting work assignments, beautiful time with family and friends, delicious food, and the exploration of new places) and savoring the peacefulness in the little moments (those nearly imperceptible things that are so easy to miss if you’re hustling and bustling a bit too much). This is about finding the sacred space in between busy and bored that is equal parts fulfilling and restful.

Image via wifeefiw.tumblr.com